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"I am Elena Gorolová, I live in the Czech Republic. I could not find a job for 15 years just because I am a Roma woman without a university degree" - a woman's voice sounded during a UN Human Rights Side Event - Voices of the Durban Review Conference in 2009. These words shed a light on the issue of discrimination based on nationality and it was just the beginning: "We, Roma women, the victims of forced sterilization, gathered for the first time in 2004. After exchanging stories about the extremely painful experiences buried deep in our hearts, we felt better" - continued her confession Elena Gorolová.
The group of 80 women handed in their complaint to the Czech Ombudsman because they were forcibly sterilised, although there were many more, states Elena. Their activists meet many more victims on their travels around the country. Roma women are fighting for their rights - something unheard of and many people are disturbed: some agree that they are doing the right thing, others don't. “We were not backed by our own people, even asked why we were going on with it,” - says Elena. In a Roma family the husband is the most important person; women have one task - to give birth to children. The Roma society states that because of the sterilization of 80 women, 500 babies were never born.
“The possibility to give birth was taken away from me”, - Elena Gorolová was sterilized against her will after giving birth to her second child. “My husband wanted a divorce. Now he is helping me in this fight, just as our society is”, - says Elena. – „But I personally know women whose husbands have left them because of their being sterilised. Their lives have fallen to pieces”.
Elena is an inspiration. Her words have been heard, and her courage appreciated: by becoming a spokesperson for the Group of Women Harmed by Forced Sterilization in the Czech Republic, she not only declared the horrific abuse of human rights, but also achieved acknowledgement for these harmful events from the Czech Republic in 2009. These women activists share their experience with women from other countries, women who have experienced the same horrible abuse of human rights. And this is far from the end: women who have been harmed by forced sterilization are fighting the government for monetary compensation.
After beginning this public activity, Elena radically changed her life: she finished her studies and has found a job. Other members of the society question her: how was she able to do so? Elena tells them that “Everything is possible, where there is a will”. This brave woman, fighting for her rights and compensation for the damage done towards her and many other women, has pushed through the thorny bushes of gender stereotypes and made the way an easier one for others. “I do not want other women to experience this. Do not be afraid, join us,”- invites Elena Gorolová in her message.